I’m 6 and you’ve come to spend the summer with us, home from law school, in California. You and your powder blue VW Bug. You are so exciting – so worldly. You drive my sister and me around in your fun, cool car; cool because it’s a Bug and it has a sunroof. We pop our heads through the roof, wind whipping through our hair, belting out Joy To The World aka Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog as loud as we can. “Faster, faster Uncle Mike – go faster over the big bump!!” And you do, but you don’t really. It doesn’t matter – you are still so cool – because you are you.
I’m 14 and I’ve come to spend a few weeks with you. I’m just a small town Connecticut girl, flying by herself, alone to far-away San Francisco. Scary but exciting! You allow me to explore the City, even on my own – hail cabs, ride BART, meet you for lunch in the Financial District. You trust me. I have freedom never known before, and it’s exhilarating – and it’s because of you.
You take me to Arizona. Such an expense you incur for me. You make me feel special. What a jet-setter you are to just hop on a plane and go! Worldly, fun, exciting! We drive three days to the Grand Canyon, camping along the way. Big, no HUGE, bugs in the desert and you make fun of me –but it’s okay, because it’s you. Lava fields, gila monsters (glad we decided against petting it!), 4-wheelin’. The most beautiful site I’ve ever seen – it’s because of you.
I’m 17 and you’ve come to spend a few months with us. I’m too naïve and inexperienced with worldly things to realize you might be having your own issues and I lean on you. I need you. You help mediate the waters between my rebel self and my overly-strict parents. We go to the beach and hang out with my friends. We take walks at midnight to help me cool down. You reason. You teach me life isn’t fair – and I accept it – because it comes from you.
You borrow MY powder blue VW Bug, my first car. You are late picking me up from school. The car engine is on fire – literally – smoking across the green. I’m upset, but forgive you quickly – because it’s you.
I’m 21 and I’ve come to spend the summer with you. I am an adult. I can do adult things. You take me around to your favorite places showing me off to your friends. You make me feel special. You offer advice and I absorb it willingly. You don’t parent. You don’t judge. During this time, you need me. You lean on me. I comfort. I advise. The circle is complete. We have fun – all summer long – because it’s you.
I’m 22, just married. We move to California. We are poor and you are generous. We visit regularly. We have fun together. We ski. We spend holidays together. You and Husband make eggplant parmesan for Thanksgiving leaving my kitchen a disaster – and it’s okay because it’s you. We do Christmas in Tahoe. You show up with the flu and give it to everyone – but it’s okay because it’s you. You and Husband plan the beer drop for his backpacking trip. You in the plane, he on the ground. The plan failed miserably, but you are awesome for doing it.
You know my kids and they know you. We visit. They feed the pigs. They chase the chickens. You show them how to shoot up the old water heater in your back yard. I’m opposed, but it’s okay because it’s you. Now I am the parent and you will perform your role with my kids. We’ve discussed this. I want to keep them sheltered and in the nest and you will let them fly. Now you are their advocate, their advisor. And they will listen – because it’s you.